Field Trip Information



Crystal Cove State Park is a busy place and a desirable spot for a field trip. We offer guided field trips on a variety of nature-based topics including tidepools, birds, animal adaptations, animal migration and more. Our programs are educational, interactive, and energetic. See the Field trip Program page for our program options.
The visitation to Crystal Cove State Park has grown exponentially as has the impact on the park resources from the tidepools to the trails. Consequently, we have updated our guidelines to lessen the impact and to ensure an enjoyable experience for school groups and the visiting public.

Reservations are necessary to guarantee space and to receive a day-use fee waiver.

A maximum of one school group will be provided a day-use fee waiver per location. Available locations are Moro backcountry (parking either at the Ranger Station or Lower Moro lot), Reef Point, Historic District (parking at the inland Los Trancos lot), Pelican Point south, and Treasure Cove. If a preferred location is already reserved, we will offer an alternative location or date if available. If schools choose to visit the park without making a reservation, they will be charged a day-use fee of $15 per vehicle, or $100 per bus. Contact for our School Group Reservation form.

Maximum Number of Participants for Guided Field Trips

We have one educator per field trip and so, in order to ensure a quality program, we allow a maximum of 40 students per guided field trip with an additional six adults (teachers and chaperones). We understand that bussing is expensive and sometimes it is necessary to fill the bus. That said, except for tidepool field trips, we can offer two rotations (with our interpreter leading one class and a teacher leading another then reversing) which can be discussed on an individual basis.

Types of Programs

The most popular school program is a visit to the tidepools. Exploring the tidepools, however, is dependent on the actual tides. We only schedule guided tidepool trips when the tide is 1.2 or below. And so, the days when the tide is low enough during a school field trip are limited. Unfortunately, we can only accommodate a limited number of schools per year for the tidepool exploration program. We will do our best to work with your dates to find a low enough tide so the students may enjoy this vibrant ecosystem. See our Field Trip Programs page to view our options.

Parking Information

All schools will receive confirmation information after scheduling with park staff including a map with directions to the assigned parking location. Because the park is so busy, educational fee waivers for K-12 and college classes will only be permitted during the week between April and September. We can not provide fee waivers for weekend field trips during the high season.


A field trip to Crystal Cove State Park will include some walking. It might be on trails, or most certainly along the beach, both which may be challenging or strenuous. Sometimes classes are scheduled at areas in the park that have steep ramps down to and then back up from the beach. Backcountry hikes generally follow a 3-mile loop trail with a lot of uphill and some steep downhill. Please be mindful of these concerns when scheduling a field trip and when inviting chaperones.

Teaching Aids

We have created a plethora of on-line teaching aids for K-12 schools including videos, power points, and activities. Under Educational Resources see “Bringing the Parks To You Online.” Many of these engaging and interactive tools will help you prepare your students for a visit to Crystal Cove State Park.

Sample Guided Field TripSample Guided Field Trip

-Arrival/use restrooms
-School Program Presentation (30-40 minutes)
-Walk to the beach (if scheduled for a tidepool program, explore the tidepools)
-Free play on the beach and lunch before returning at your convenience

Program Fee Information

When you schedule a field trip at Crystal Cove State Park we waive the day-use fee. For guided field trips we do charge a $2.50 per student program fee. There is no fee for teachers or chaperones. Payment is preferred either before the field trip or on the day of. We do not take credit cards but can take a check or cash.

K-12 and College Self-Guided Field Trips

To qualify for a day-use waiver you must contact to receive the School Group Reservation form. We must receive the request within two weeks of your preferred field trip date to process the fee waiver. Once received we will find a location, approve the field trip, and send pre-trip park information.

Science Projects in the Marine Protected Area

Crystal Cove State Park is designated as a State Marine Conservation area which allows for limited recreational and commercial take. Absolutely no take is allowed from the tidepools.
If you are proposing a project that includes quadrats, transects or any other proposed research in the park you must contact Senior Environmental Scientist Riley Pratt at